The world prepared for a coronavirus pandemic on Friday as hopes the disease could be contained to China vanished and investors dumped equities in expectation of a global recession.
South Korea reported 315 more virus cases, bringing its increase for the day to 571 and total number of infections to 2,337. For the first time, its daily increase surpassed that of China, which reported 327 new cases — bringing its total cases to more than 78,800 with almost 2,800 deaths.
Asian stock markets plunged further Friday amid spreading virus fears, deepening a global rout after Wall Street endured its biggest one-day drop in nine years.
Tokyo’s benchmark plummeted by an unusually wide margin of 3.7 per cent and Seoul and Sydney dropped by more than three per cent; Hong Kong and Shanghai saw losses of over 2.5 per cent. Oil prices slumped on expectations industrial activity and demand might contract.
Investors had been confident the disease that emerged in China in December might be under control. But outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran have fuelled fears the virus is turning into a global threat that might derail trade and industry.
“This virus has pandemic potential,” World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in Geneva on Thursday. “This is not a time for fear. This is a time for taking action to prevent infection and save lives now.”
1st cases for Nigeria, New Zealand
Nigeria’s health authorities reported the country’s first case of the new coronavirus in Lagos, the first confirmed appearance of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa. Cases of the virus were already confirmed in Egypt and Algeria in north Africa.
The Commissioner for Health for Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, said Friday that an Italian citizen who entered Nigeria on Feb. 25 from Milan on a business trip fell ill the next day.
Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.
He said officials were working to identify all of the man’s contacts since he arrived in Nigeria.
WATCH: Infectious disease doctor explains what’s happening with COVID-19
New Zealand health officials also said on Friday that the country had its first case, found in a person in their 60s who recently returned from Iran.
Health officials said the results of a test came through positive on Friday afternoon. The person was being treated at the Auckland City Hospital and the person’s household members had also been isolated as a precaution.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health said in a statement it was confident the public health risk from the infection was being well managed.
Here’s what’s happening in South Korea
South Korea said the southeastern city of Daegu and surrounding areas accounted for most of its new infections. Officials have been mobilizing public health tools to contain the outbreak to the Daegu area, but the gradual increase of cases elsewhere has raised concern that authorities are losing control of the virus.
Thirteen people have died so far in the country.
WATCH: South Korea launches roadside tests
A Hyundai worker tested positive for the virus on Friday, leading to a suspension of production at one the automaker’s factories in the southeastern city of Ulsan
The country’s National Assembly has passed a law strengthening the punishment for those violating self-isolation, more than tripling the fine and adding the possibility of a year in prison.
The military also called off joint drills planned with U.S. troops.
The outbreak has prompted South Korean boy band BTS to cancel its scheduled April concerts in Seoul, according to its music label, Big Hit Entertainment.
BTS had scheduled a “Map of the Soul” tour for April 11-12 and 18-19 at Seoul’s Olympic Stadium.
Here’s what’s happening in Japan
The Japanese island of Hokkaido declared a state of emergency on Friday over the rapid spread of the new virus. The governor said the emergency will continue until mid-March and urged all residents to stay home this weekend, which he said is a critical time to keep the situation from worsening.
The number of cases in Hokkaido has risen rapidly in recent days to 63.
The country’s schools prepared to close for almost a month, in a move that would send nearly 13 million children home and leave few people untouched by the virus in the world’s third-biggest economy.
Sporting events and concerts in Japan have already been cancelled, and Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea said, too, they would close until mid-March. The closure of Disney resorts in Japan will last through March 15, their Japanese operator, Oriental Land Co., said Friday. Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai remain closed.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called for all schools to close until late March, though the decisions to do so were being made locally.
“The most important thing is to prevent infections, so there aren’t many other options,” said Norinobu Sawada, vice principal of Koizumi primary school.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
The Swiss government announced an immediate ban Friday on all “public and private” events in the country involving more than 1,000 people as a measure to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
The measure announced Friday comes will last until at least March 15, officials said. The government said it was “aware that this measure will have a significant impact on public life in Switzerland.”
“However, the move is expected to provide effective protection to people in Switzerland and to public health,” the government said. “It should prevent or delay the spread of the disease in Switzerland, thus reducing its momentum.”
Switzerland has reported 15 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. It borders northern Italy, which has seen the largest cluster of cases in Europe.
The United Kingdom now has 19 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus after Wales identified its first case and two new cases were found in England, health authorities said on Friday.
Here’s what’s happening in Canada
Quebec’s first presumptive case of the coronavirus was detected in a woman who recently returned from a trip to Iran, the provincial health minister said Thursday evening.
The woman took a plane from Iran to Qatar before arriving at the Montreal airport on Monday, Health Minister Danielle McCann said at an impromptu news conference.
WATCH: How Canada is preparing for a coronavirus outbreak
Earlier, Ontario reported a sixth case of COVID-19 on Thursday. The other seven cases in the country are in British Columbia.
Canada’s public health agency is taking stock of the need for personal protective equipment and other supplies to make sure there are enough to go around in case of a pandemic.
The virus, which does not yet have a cure or a vaccine, keeps spreading to new places around the world.